Weight loss goal #4 = 40 pounds!

Well, I’m officially past halfway! This past Friday, I weighed in and kept my fingers crossed that I would finally have my weight loss number start with a 4. While I was only .8 lbs away from 40 on the previous weigh-in, I wasn’t sure if I’d hit 40 pounds since I had a busy week where I didn’t feel like I got to stick to my calorie allowance and get in as many tough workouts.

I stepped on the scale saying to myself, “This might not be the number you want, but it’s okay.” Sure enough, I saw a 1.6 pound drop! This put me at 40.6 pounds lost and I was ecstatic! Of my weight loss numbers, this is one of the ones that has excited me the most. Not just because it’s the highest one I’ve seen, but it’s a huge milestone. It means that I’m beyond halfway to my goal weight. It means that I’ve lost as much weight as I did many years ago when I was successful with weight loss. It means that I am at a significantly lower number than where I started. It means that I’m proving people wrong who think that weight loss is about depriving yourself of foods that you enjoy, getting in workouts that kill, and/or that you have to pay some sort of monthly fee to the latest diet fad in order to get anywhere. Because of this, I’ve decided to title this goal achievement post as…

How I Lost 40 Pounds without Running or Dieting

It’s 100% true: I haven’t ran once or done any “dieting.” I have lost 40 pounds by making small changes to my lifestyle, doing workouts that I enjoy, and eating foods that leave me feeling full and satisfied. I haven’t dropped a dime on any sort of program and I don’t even have a gym membership (though I would if I had one nearby). My point is — losing weight isn’t as hard as people let themselves think it is. “Wrong!” You must be saying. But here’s how I feel about it:

In the big picture, yes, losing weight is HARD. It’s hard because it’s change — and many people don’t like change. It’s about being patient — and many people want things NOW.

But if you look at it in smaller pictures, it’s easy. It’s about making small changes a little at a time that lead to big improvements. It’s about making changes within your comfort zone. It’s about what you can accomplish right now and doing something that your future self will thank you for.

Here is a list of steps I took (and some steps I wish I had done), written as directions, if you’d like to try it for yourself:

Step 1: Weigh yourself and write it down. While stepping on the scale when you know you’re overweight isn’t fun, it’s important. For me, the number shocked and scared me and was the motivation I needed. I found that writing it down made it real. Also, knowing my starting point has come in extremely handy as I continue to lose and know my progress.

Step 2: Measure yourself. I wish I had measured myself the first day, or even the first week, that I got my starting weight. It would mean that the numbers I have would be even greater for inches lost, but unfortunately, I didn’t do it. So, measure your neck, bust, waist, stomach, hips, thigh, calf, upper arm, forearm, and wrist — and don’t squeeze it tight. Be realistic. You’ll thank yourself later.

Step 3: Find out your body composition. If you have a gym or health and wellness center nearby, find out your starting body composition. If you don’t, consider ordering either an electronic body fat calculator, such as the Omron Fat Loss Monitor, or buy some calipers. You don’t necessarily have to do this on the same day of your first weight and measurements, but do find out where you’re starting out at. When you start making progress and you don’t see it on the scale, you will realize that you have made progress in other areas. (Note: Research has found that most body composition calculators aren’t 100% accurate; however, you can still see progress in numbers because it will decrease over time.)

Step 4: Take some pictures. I took some “starting” pictures, but I wish I had done more when I actually started rather than a few months after. Or taken more than a selfie when I started. I suggest taking some front, back, side, up close, and far away pictures. Then, make sure to NOT get rid of the clothes you took your pictures in because later down the road, it’ll be great to throw those back on and see how much you’ve changed.

Now that you’ve got your starting numbers and pictures, figure out why you’re at the weight you are now…

Step 5: Track your meals for 3 days. Get an app, grab a pen and paper, or just take pictures of everything you eat and drink for the next 3 days. (If you don’t use an app initially, make sure you do find out how many calories you consumed based on your pictures or journal because this will be important.) Do not underestimate your portion sizes or forget to count that handful of M&M’s, and don’t make any big diet changes just yet either. You need to figure out where your starting point is before you start cutting calories. I say this because if you enter in your goal weight into any weight loss calculator, it’s likely going to suggest a number of daily calories that is going to be too hard to feel full on. The last thing you want is to make too big of a change that leaves you hungry, lightheaded, and forces you back into making poor decisions.

Step 6: Find out your daily calorie intake. You can use an online calculator, such as this one, to find out the number of calories you would need to eat to maintain, lose, or gain weight. This will be helpful information to use with an app such as MyFitnessPal. (Note: Some calorie counting programs will suggest a major cut back in your calories and it will be too big of a deficit to stick to. You don’t want to drop your calories more than 1,000. See more information on why here.)

When you log your meals for 3 days and find out your calorie intake, you have a good idea of the average calories you eat on a daily basis. From there, you can know what your new calorie goal is by dropping it by 300 to 500 calories and seeing how you feel. To give you an idea of how much of a change this is, it’s skipping that Venti Caramel Frappuccino from your morning or swapping out french fries for a side salad on lunch. That’s it. Just one swap.

When I started, I found that I was eating about 2,500 calories a day – and it explained why I was maintaining such a heavy weight. When I actually opened up my eyes to what I was consuming, making small changes made a big difference.

Step 7: Write down your goals. I highly suggest that you create goals for every 5-10 pounds you want to lose. Depending on your budget, or what you really want, write down things that really motivate you. For me, the first 10 pounds meant I got a 1-hour massage. I really wanted that massage and I pushed for it. It was one of the most rewarding massages I had ever had — second to when I did it again for hitting my 30-pound goal! Post it somewhere you see all the time and make sure you add check boxes to check off when you meet your goal. Getting to check off that box is quite rewarding!

Now that you’re actually ready to start…

Step 8: Get rid of the junk in your house. If you have foods you know you can’t resist, I suggest getting rid of them. Whether you toss it or donate it, get rid of the temptation. It’s especially important when you’re starting because, if you leave it in the house, it makes it easier for you to say, “I’ll start tomorrow.” If you live with others that still want to eat those foods, suggest having them hide it from you. On the other hand, if they’re supportive of your new healthy lifestyle, let them know about the changes you want to make and see if you can agree to keep the junk out.

Step 9: Start tracking your meals regularly. Now that you’ve got your starting numbers under your belt, the junk out of the house, and you’re ready to finally say “Let’s do this!” make sure you also keep track of your meals. I didn’t track my meals at the beginning, but I wish I would have. I waited about a month and a half before I started tracking. Knowing that I have to record what I eat affects the decisions I make. I usually put off eating anything sweet until the end of the day — so if my calories allot it, I will allow myself some. But I found, over time, that I didn’t actually want it. And sometimes, if it was something bigger than a bite-size piece, I would workout harder or add another workout to my day to make up for those extra calories. It makes you think twice and ask yourself why you’re indulging in this treat.

Step 10: Start workouts you enjoy or know you can do. I, for one, can’t run. Not because I don’t want to, but because of a very old knee injury that leaves me in a lot of pain whenever I try. Therefore, most of my cardio comes from walking. I walk on work breaks, lunch breaks, on my treadmill, or just around town on a beautiful day. I walk, on average, 3 miles a day. It sounds like a lot, but really it’s a combination of 4 to 6 separate times that I walk during the day, ranging from 10 minutes to an hour at a time. In addition, I have invested money in yoga mats, weights, and resistance bands so I can do strength training in my home. You can also fine online videos and do the workouts. Do things that you find fun and an easily incorporate into your day. I’ve found that it’s a lot harder to skip a workout when my workouts take place in my own home!

Step 11: Gain some knowledge. Start to learn the ins and outs of weight loss – the healthy way. Take the time to learn what are healthy fats and how they differ from unhealthy ones. Learn why a combination of strength training and cardio is important. Learn why fad diets are only going to cost you money and lead to disappointment. Knowing what and why you’re doing what you’re doing to your body makes keeping up your weight loss journey easier, and a little more fun. You stop wondering why the scale didn’t budge and you learn to assess what changes you need to make in order to meet your next goal.

In conclusion…

Over time, you’ll learn self control. It won’t be easy at first, and you will mess up — but it’s okay. There’s always tomorrow. When you slip up, don’t beat yourself up about it. This whole process shouldn’t be about depriving yourself. You should be setting yourself up for how you will eat the rest of your life. You’ll learn when to say no to junk and when it’s okay to indulge. You’ll learn healthy new recipes and start sneaking spinach and avocado into your baking. Know that it will take time and that it will test your patience, but in the end, it will be worth it. Because the weight you lose will be able to be kept off because you didn’t make any temporary changes. Over time, you’ll discover multiple benefits to what you’re doing and you’ll feel good about yourself. You might realize new things about yourself and find that these healthy changes affect more than just your pant size.

Do Something Today That Your Future Self Will Thank You For

Good luck! 🙂

To learn more about what I’ve done to get to this point, check out my Weight Loss page.